Japan opened their FIFA U-17 World Cup Group D account in Sharjah with a clinical 1-0 win over a Russian side lacking in ideas and spirit. A stunning goal from distance on the quarter-hour from Kosei Uryu proved the difference between the sides, and the Asians now move up to a share of top spot in the section without really having to exert themselves unduly.
The first-half followed a clear pattern, with the clever and lively Japanese passing the ball around the pitch at will, completely dominating possession. The Russians seemed content to sit back and absorb the pressure, without ever really hitting out on any counter-attacking raids. The Asians needed only 15 minutes to open their account, when Kosei Uryu hammered a sizzling right-footed blast to the top-corner. One of the goals of the tournament so far, it left highly rated Russian keeper Anton Mitryushkin with no chance.
Japan continued to dominate for the remainder of the half and had another good chance in the fading moments, but Koji Miyoshi couldn’t curve his effort enough to nestle the ball in the top corner. For all their good possession, the Japanese only had a 1-0 lead to show for it at the half.
The Russians began to push forward with a greater sense of purpose in the second-half, and their best chance to score came in the 63rd minute after a bit of dreadful defending. A horrid back-pass was fumbled by Japanese goalkeeper Teimosii Shiraoka, allowing Ilir Nurisov to race in on goal. But he made a mess of his finish, as did Ramil Sheidav on the follow-up. He failed to poke home after making a bit of room for himself in the area.
That was all the Russians, who lacked ideas throughout, could muster as the game finished 1-0 to the Japanese with a minimum of fuss. Next up for the slick-passing Asians is a date with South American debutants Venezuela on 21 October, while Russia look to get things back on track when they take on Tunisia that same day.